Support » Plugin: Gutenberg » Gutenberg gets WordPress wrong and is a terrible writing environment

  • Matthew Hollett


    I’ve been developing with WordPress for 10 years, and currently administer about 40 client websites. I’ve spent some time with Gutenberg, and I’m certain that if this is where WordPress is headed, it’s probably the beginning of the end of my reliance on it as a content management system.

    WordPress has always been focussed on writing. The classic editor works wonderfully as a writing environment. My clients find it intuitive because it mimics the interface of Word and similar software. I’ve rarely had to explain to anyone how to compose a post in the classic editor – they just get it.

    As a writing environment, Gutenberg is obscenely clunky. Little labels and toolbars fly around when I move from paragraph to paragraph. It’s visually distracting and disruptive – I want to be able to click and edit writing without having to worry about a toolbar jumping in the way. The sidebar seems designed to encourage users to futz around with font sizes and colours rather than writing. It breaks basic OS-level text editing features like being able to highlight text and drag it to a new location.

    I understand the usefulness of “blocks”, and I think a more minimal approach to creating “blocks” in WordPress could work well. uses a similar concept and still manages to be a pretty great writing environment. Gutenberg is not. It is not ready for wide release, and should never be made the default editing experience. I hesitate to call it an “editor” at all – it feels like an overly complex, knockoff page-builder.

    For example – I type a line of text, then decide to make it a heading. To do that, have to click the “paragraph” symbol, which makes no sense (and the button does not even look “clickable”, since it’s already highlighted). Gutenberg makes it far easier to just make the font size bigger so it looks like a heading, which is what 90% of casual users will probably do, which seems like a disaster for accessibility.

    Some of your UI decisions are bizarre. Why is the “Publish” button crammed in the top right corner, where it is much less visible? Why did you remove the word count tool? Why on earth does a “Change Permalinks” button show up when I’m editing the post title? (Also, the permalinks for new posts are being displayed in “Plain” format, when my settings specify “Post Name”).

    Gutenberg litters HTML code with cruft, and seems likely to break a ton of plugins I rely on, such as Advanced Custom Fields. It makes WordPress less intuitive for casual users, and is basically a nightmare for longtime developers. Please rethink what you are trying to accomplish with this.

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  • Plugin Author Tammie Lister


    Thanks for your review @matthewhollett and also testing the new editing experience. I wanted to take a moment to try and reply to your well thought out response.

    The balance of what to show and not is absolutely something being worked on right now in the interface. I wanted to recognise that as you mention about labels and toolbars. It’s a reminder to consider that and refine.

    That’s an interesting point that surfacing when the right element should or shouldn’t be used is important. Headers is a good example of that, it’s a good point to think on – not one I have a solution for now but thank you for that valid point. There is a case for allowing font size changes but it’s how that behaviour is nudged to be not as a header.

    Word count is included in Gutenberg but perhaps the position here is the issue. If you click the top ‘I’ icon you get an information section with that and other insights. Knowing that now, is it the position you prefer in the Classic Editor?

    As far as your permalink being in wrong setting, well that sounds like a bug and thank you for finding that. Would you be able to report that here: If not, I absolutely can for you.

    I am sorry you have experienced things breaking. Could you perhaps give some insight into what did happen? I ask as making sure things work with Gutenberg is crucial and you likely have invaluable feedback.

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